"We are going to give it the old college try to see if we can get through the rest of the season without having to do a procedure," said Putnam, sitting at his locker prior to Wednesday's contest with the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. "[If I] come back and it hasn't improved at all, or I continue to have a lot of discomfort, then we may have to re-address it at that time. I don't know we have any firm decision made one way or another right now. It's just day to day."
The surgical options are either an arthroscopic procedure to remove bone chips from the elbow or one more along the lines of Tommy John. Either would bring an end to his '16 campaign.
Putnam is not participating in any baseball activity, although he is working out a great deal. He will travel with the team to Houston this weekend and hopes to ramp up his throwing again soon.
"We are not going to waste too much time down from throwing. It kind of defeats the purpose. It's a moving target a little bit right now," Putnam said. "I'm going to continue to work on it every day and maybe start throwing for the first time over the weekend.
"As I said, it's day to day. Every day I come in, we try to evaluate. I'm meeting with team doctors every other day to try to figure out where we are at and what the next step is."
The issue is in the same area where Putnam had surgery in 2013, a procedure that brought him relief for a year and a half or two, but the pain has been "creeping up." Problems in his June 19 outing in Cleveland and a June 20 performance in Boston, in which he walked the bases loaded in the ninth with nobody out, caused him to speak up.
"I started having some pretty serious issues again that I couldn't ignore," said Putnam, who has a 2.30 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings. "It's one of those things where you've got to try to find the line between what you can work through and what's typical reliever stuff and when to say something. I felt like in my opinion that it was definitely time to speak up.
"It was starting to become an issue. I was having a hard time throwing strikes, losing some feeling in my fingers. We are trying to address it nonsurgically and hope for the best. Worst-case scenario, [I'll] probably end up having something done. But we are going to try to avoid that."
Relievers Jake Petricka (hip flexor) and Daniel Webb (Tommy John) already have been lost to season-ending surgeries.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.